I’ve been busy shouting about some very basic human rights that I think are essential to good health and self-care in the last couple of blog posts. Today will be no exception – I have two more rights to establish in the work of overcoming anxiety.

The Right to care for Ourselves with at LEAST as much Energy as we care for those around us

What? What am I saying? That we are at least as important as the other people in our lives, hell, in the world in general? Yes. That’s precisely what I’m saying. In fact this right in some respects sums up the other rights I’ve already advocated here – the right to say NO, the right to ask for what we want, the right to make mistakes and the right to have and express our own thinking and feelings.

In fact I might say that we are practicing NON-self-care when we refuse to practice these basic rights. Way, way too many of us learned, one way or another, that caring for ourselves ALWAYS came second to caring for the people around us. We came to believe that our support and our self-care was never as important as the support and care of others.

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Guess what? We’re wrong. We’re utterly, totally wrong. Terrible things begin to happen, over time, when we think and act this way. You already know the consequences of this non-self-care, even if you’re not necessarily very conscious of it all the time –

One consequence is that we get angry. Oh yeah. We may not be in a towering rage all the time (although that happens too) but we store it up, bottle it up, and it begins to leak out on us and the people around us. As I mentioned in my last post there’s some innately healthy, wise part of us that KNOWS we can’t live strong, capable, smart lives and not also take care of ourselves.

We get passive-aggressive. We burn with resentment. We sabatoge our joy. We find ourselves focusing on how unfair life is, how much we’re missing out on, how selfish other people are. And that makes sense, because somehow we learned that we didn’t have the right to take care of ourselves, to treat ourselves with the same respect that we give to other people, even as that wise, innate part of us is saying “hey, what about US?”

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Time to start listening to that wise internal voice. We MATTER. Our needs, our hopes, our dreams, and yes, even our fears MATTER. It’s time to open up to all of those needs, hopes, dreams and fears – drag them out into the light, give them an audience, LISTEN to ourselves, and start treating ourselves as at least as important as everyone around us.

What’s important to you? What would you like to see in your life? What would you like to stop doing? What do you want to do more of? Notice I’m not promising you can have all those things right away. Having a right isn’t the same as a guarantee that everything will go your way just because you want it. 🙂

On the other hand there’s no way in the Cold Hells that we CAN have we want if we don’t make ourselves a priority. I’m not saying you become your ONLY priority, but it sure would be nice if you WERE a priority in your own life, wouldn’t it?

I know. Scary. Who the hell are you to want something anyway? Sit down. Stop making a fuss. You shouldn’t make other people uncomfortable. You should always make other people happy, feel safe, never make waves. Right? WRONG.

Healthy living sometimes demands some discomfort. Heck, sometimes healthy living demands that we get VERY uncomfortable, for periods of time, to get healthier. Sometimes we need to rock our worlds in order to grow.

I know. Dang uncomfortable even to think about, maybe, right now. But it’s still true. You have a right to set your own priorities. You have a right to care for yourself at least as much as the people around you. And you can’t really care for other people until you learn to care for yourself. You may be going through the motions, doing all the right things, but you seething with resentment, you feeling hurt and shut down and isolated because you won’t care for yourself like you care for others isn’t really caring for others – and sooner or later will wreak havoc in those relationships.

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Time to care for yourself. Time to start treating yourself as important, vital, worthy of respect, worthy of self-care.

The Right to Privacy

This is an interesting right to talk about from the perspective of my own history. I grew up in a household with a Mom who didn’t really believe in the right to privacy – at least when it came to her children.

That meant weird stuff like no lock on the bathroom door! That meant that she would search through our dresser drawers whenever she felt the need. It meant interrogations about where we had been, what we had been doing, whenever she had doubts about what we had been up to that day. It meant we had little or no privacy.

That lack of privacy had some interesting effects on young Erik. It left me without a sense that it was legal for me to draw boundaries. I had no “no” to give because a parent felt they had unlimited privilege to do as they would when they would with my world.

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It also taught me that there was something inherently sneaky, underhanded and selfish in WANTING to have some privacy. It was like I was guilty for a crime I didn’t commit simply by wanting to keep some sense of personal territory and space. Ugh!

Privacy is another essential human right. We NEED some room in our lives to have stuff that belongs just to us, to be shared or not shared as WE decide. We need to have space to ourselves, even if it is only a drawer, or a closet, or a shoebox – something that is just ours, and that requires our permission to open or close.

This is, in some respects, the opposite of the right to have and express our own thinking and feelings. We also have the right to NOT express those things. And it is also the right, as I just said, to some personal space. That’s both possessions and physical space – how much room we need to feel comfortable in the world, the distance between us and the people around us.

Privacy might be seen as symbolic of our power – our power to say yes or no, our power to keep or express our opinions and feelings, our power to practice self-care and self-love even if it might for the moment inconvenience another person, etc.

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Privacy means we have a place to retreat to, our own inner sanctum, a place where we can be alone with US BY OURSELVES. Doesn’t have to be a mansion! Might be a shoe closet. Ever seen little kids hide in the closet? Even at that age we feel the need to sometimes just be with just us, left alone by the world, someplace out of sight and away from prying eyes and people telling us what to do.

That’s just being human. It’s a right.

And, of course, other people are you are entitled to some privacy too. We can’t demand privacy for ourselves and not allow other people to keep their thoughts or feelings or dreams to themselves, to share when they wish and with whom.

Hey! You’ve got Rights!

And I hope you see those rights more clearly after these last three blog posts. I hope you see them AS rights – rights to fight for, rights to work for, rights that help make us healthy and less anxious. You have rights, I have rights, we all have these rights.

So what are your next opportunities to work on your rights as a healthy human being? What fears get in your way in your thinking when you consider claiming your rights? What “what if” routines start running? What self-care would get you moving in the right direction today?

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